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GCR Books

Alex Wilson – the keeper who started under Joe Shaw.

By Tony Attwood

Alex Wilson was an Arsenal goalkeeper who played his first Arsenal match on 27 January 1934 – a 7-0 win over Crystal Palace.  Frank Moss was the keeper at the time, but he was injured for this match, and Wilson took over – one of six games he played in that season – too few to get a winners’ medal as Arsenal won the league.

It was a traumatic season – the season in which Herbert Chapman died and Joe Shaw took over.  He is therefore counted as one of Joe Shaw’s players.

Alex Wilson was born in Lancashire, and played for Overton Athletic and Greenock Morton winning promotion to the first division with then in 1929.

He was signed by Chapman in May 1933.  Wikipedia wrongly states that “he made his début against Aston Villa on March 10, 1934 after Moss picked up an injury; Arsenal won 3-2.”  In fact this was his league début.

Over the first two seasons he played intermittently but did get a run for the last nine games of 1934/5 – losing only the final game (by which time Arsenal were champions).

But with Moss injuries problems continuing new manager George Allison kept Alex in goal and he played 43 games that season, including in the cup final where we beat Sheffield United 1-0.

However in the close season Allison signed George Swindin and Frank Boulton and after playing in the first game of the season Alex Wilson played only one more game as first Swindin then Boulton became the first team keeper.

But he came in 1938/9 after Boulton was sold and played 19 league and one cup game.  After the second world war broke out he joined St Mirren, having played 90 games for Arsenal.

He did turn out as an emergency keeper for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 3rd division south in 1947/8 and was also trainer and physiotherapist for the club before moving on to Birmingham City, Sunderland and Blackpool, as well as Kent County Cricket Club.

In 1967 he emigrated to the USA and worked as a physio for the Boston Beacons of the NASL. He died in Boston at 1971, aged 62.

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